A cultural touchstone, rum is enjoyed across the world in a million different ways. Sipped neat on the beach or used as the base of a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, here are five of the best rums on the market right now.
Rum is defined as a spirit distilled using sugar cane or molasses. There are a number of different types of rum. The elegant spirit can be golden, dark, spiced, white or overproof. The nomenclature derives from the aging process and the strength of the rum.
Darker rums have typically been aged longer than their lighter cousins - spiced rums have, of course, been mixed with spices. Overproof rums are higher ABV offerings.
Your older, darker rums are typically best enjoyed neat or on ice. Your white rums pack more of a punch and make for the ideal cocktail base.
We’ve rounded up HITC's favourite rums on the market, finding a bottle to suit your budget and palate.
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Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros - 45% ABV - £53.33
HITC Says: A complex rum that is rewarding as it is smooth.
Havana Club are one of the best known names in the game. This expression is part of the Club Iconica collection and it’s no wonder why.
The Seleccion de Maestros derives its name from the makers. This spirit is a collaboration, blended from a selection of rums picked out by the members of the guild of the Maestros del Ron Cubano. In English (and in layman’s terms) this means that the most knowledgeable rum experts in Cuba get together, taste a lot of rum and then decide which ones to bottle together.
The maestros got it right. The end result of the blend is a complex and sophisticated spirit. The palate is awash with caramel and cloves, pepper and cocoa - an oily leatheriness keeps things smooth.
This is a tipple that is accessible to lovers of any spirit but particularly whisky. Tennessee whisky if you want to get even more particular. Don’t bother mixing at first, just sip neat without ice. Add a few drops of water later on to open up some of the deeper, earthier flavours.
Where to buy: Master of Malt
Kraken Reef Wreckage - 40% ABV - £35.99
HITC says: A world leading spiced rum that you can sip whilst saving the planet.
Kraken Spiced Rum is one of the tastiest on the market. This bottle comes with the added zest of feeling good about yourself.
This rum comes in a gorgeous, limited edition ceramic bottle. The Reef Wreckage expression has been released in collaboration with Surfers Against Sewage, with £1 from every bottle sold going to the charity. SAS organise beach clean ups and design waste reduction initiatives as they fight to clear up our waters.
You may feel good about yourself buying the bottle but you’ll feel even better drinking it. This spirit is decadently rich, full of thick syrup and warming cinnamon, both matched by notes of smoky bonfire. As spicy as it is sweet, the flavours in this bottle are impressively balanced. Enjoyable over ice or at the base of a Dark n Stormy.
With the ceramic bottle doubling as a quirky vase when you’re done sipping, this rum really is a must buy.
Where to buy: Amazon
Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum - 63% ABV - £26
HITC Says: A cultural touchstone that demands caution and a good DJ.
Colloquially known simply as ‘Wray’ among other names, this rum is a staple in the Afro-Caribbean community. Clocking in at 63% you should enjoy this one with caution.
Wray accounts for over 90% of rum consumption in Jamaica, it is used in cooking, healing and celebrating. Wray is a powerful spirit that warms the chest and moves the feet.
The palate is big and bold, it isn’t for the faint of heart. Once the fire has been put out you are treated to coconut and vanilla during a long finish. This isn’t a rum to be sipped neat - on the rocks with a few splashes of water, sure.
The best way to enjoy this rum is in a cocktail. You can either simply mix it with a can of Ting of mix yourself up a tropical rum punch with pineapple and mango.
Where to buy: Sainsbury’s
Bacardi Gran Reserva Diez - 40% ABV - £40.75
HITC says: A premium offering from one of the world’s most adored rum distillers.
If you’ve ever drank a rum and coke, chances are you’ve drank Bacardi. The Cuban spirits giants now own hundreds of brands but it is their famous rum that kicked it all off.
This expression from Bacardi is aged in American white oak barrels for 10 years before bottling. This maturation period serves to make the drink a lot smoother and the flavours more layered - the oak liberally distributing vanilla throughout the spirit.
One whiff of this rum lets you know what you’re in for, the nose is bursting with fresh fruits; banana and apple lead the charge. The palate delivers on the nose with banana and apple reappearing alongside a sophisticated host of spices - nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla join the party.
This is a silkily smooth rum that is best enjoyed on the rocks. The perfect gift for the Bacardi drinker in your life, the Gran Reserva Diez will up their rum game 10 fold (and 10 years).
Where to buy: The Whisky Exchange
El Dorado 8 Year Old - 40% ABV - £29.83
HITC says: A delicately balanced, versatile rum that is bursting with vanilla and treacle.
El Dorado are a distiller with a golden touch. We’re yet to try an expression we haven’t liked from the mythically named distiller. Their 3 year old white rum is sublime and mature beyond its years; their 15 year old has been rated the best in the world in international competition.
The El Dorado 8 Year Old is a fine middle ground between the two. This rum is aged in American bourbon barrels, giving the spirit a rounded, fruity and spicy character.
The nose is full of caramel, golden syrup and baking spices. The palate is smooth with tropical fruit, vanilla and caramel dominating among cloves, nutmeg and treacle. The palate is thick but smooth, incredibly full on the tongue it asks a lot of you but rewards you in kind.
This is an incredibly well balanced spirit that will suit those that enjoy a smooth, fruity whisky. An ideal first step if you’ve ever considered branching out from Jameson’s.
Where to buy: Master of Malt
Best buy: Kraken Reef Wreckage
The Kraken Reef Wreckage wins out as it is some of the best value for money rum you can get at the moment. As enjoyable on the rocks as it is with a ginger beer, this is a rum for a quiet evening in or a loud night out. If you want something a touch more premium then grab the Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros.
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